philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


[Inaudible Chatter] Closed Captioning Becomes Hit With TV Viewers

im-171576Some of the people most committed to captioning don’t need it at all. They are viewers who hear just fine but prefer to read along with everything they watch, including TV shows and movies in their own language, as a hack to better understand what is happening on screen.

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The sensory overload of Half-Life: Alyx points to the promise and problems of VR

imrs.phpThe story is light, which only fuels my suspicion that the game’s Half-Life branding is meant as a Trojan Horse for VR. Still, the industry would do well to learn from Alyx’s successes and failures.

Manually loading magazines for your weapon feels like a revelation. The mere act of emptying and refilling chambers is recontextualized to something more frantic and harrowing under the hail of gunfire and the threat of facehugging aliens.

But the most important new feature is Alyx’s “gravity” glove. Aim your hand toward an object (anything from a bullet magazine to a tin can), hold down a button and flick your wrist toward yourself. The item will fly into your hand (provided you catch it). This trick never felt old, not once. But more importantly, it solves an ever-present problem in VR games in registering how to “collect” items. Gamefying reloading with simple hand motions takes a few minutes to get used to, but the sooner you get used to it, the faster you’ll feel like a super-soldier Jedi.

A midgame threat forces you to make as little noise as possible, a classic horror movie trope ala “A Quiet Place.” When two cans fell and I caught them just before they hit the ground, I purposefully whispered “yes!” rather than saying it out loud. The creativity of the moment, my quick response to it, and the terror of the situation all folded into a perfect virtual reality moment. This segment will likely become a popular discussion point among horror game developers.

Interacting with the virtual world is the game’s strength. Alyx’s hacking tool can manipulate electronic locks that circle around your body. Precise lever-pulling never felt more intuitive, because pulling on a lever is just like real life.

And yet, less than an hour in, the limitations start to become clear. As the game ramps up in intensity — enemy fire all around you — you’ll start missing the agility of standard first-person shooters like Doom Eternal. You’ll wish you could open doors with the press of a button, not by laboriously grabbing the handle and pushing it open.

It’s fair to compare Valve’s Half-Life series to Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane.” Both are less known for their stories at this point, and more for how those stories were told, and their place in culture. Half-Life: Alyx is the closest thing to a “must-have” title in virtual reality. Ultimately, what Half-Life: Alyx is today is less important than what it may inspire.

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Bose and Lucasfilm Launch New “Star Wars” Audio-Augmented Reality Experience Featuring Sounds From Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

“In partnership with Lucasfilm, Skywalker Sound, Disney, and Bose, Trigger created an immersive, audio-focused AR experience to complement the release of the final film in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
. It was built specifically to utilize the capabilities of embedded motion sensors found in the flagship line of Bose AR-enabled devices, including two types of headphones and a line of eyeglass frames. Users can try it out in the official Star Wars app.

By simply rotating their head, users can experience four essential scenes from the Star Wars franchise as if they were inside the films. They can explore the area where characters are engaged in battle or tap a character to switch to their point-of-view. The AR spans across all eras of the franchise, covering the journey of Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s iconic lightsaber, leading up to the current trilogy where the lightsaber is now in Rey’s possession. The final scene in the AR experience is based on the Millennium Falcon training sequence from A New Hope, which features new, original sounds created specifically for this experience by Skywalker Sound, along with a number of sounds from the Disney Galaxy’s Edge theme park experience.”

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XR Association Releases Results Of Fourth Augmented And Virtual Reality Survey

Today, the XR Association (XRA), global law firm Perkins Coie LLP, and industry venture capital firm Boost VC released the results of the fourth annual Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey, which surveyed respondents from startups, enterprise technology firms, and investors in the XR industry in early 2020. The survey, conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, concluded that plummeting hardware and software costs, increasingly impactful applications outside of entertainment, and the ubiquity of mobile devices are contributing to the rise of XR technologies.

Results indicated both expanding avenues for monetization and growing momentum for nearly every area of immersive technology’s use. With applications ranging from sports, video games, and entertainment to healthcare, education, and disaster preparedness, it is evident that immersive technology will create significant opportunities across industries.

Additional key findings include:

  • Expectations for AR technologies continue to outpace VR in terms of expected revenue, market penetration, and consumer adoption, with three-fourths of respondents expecting the AR market to eventually surpass VR in total revenue.
  • Six of the 10 top cities selected for their pioneering work in smart city immersive technologies are in the United States, including New York CityAustinLos AngelesChicagoBoston, and San FranciscoBeijingTokyoDubai, and Barcelona round out the list.
  • Respondents pointed to continued device upgrades as an improvement that will most impact consumer adoption of immersive technology in the next two years. Devices being smaller, fashionable, and comfortable followed.
  • With AR devices in half of the world’s pockets via mobile phones, more than two-thirds of respondents expect that businesses will be investing slightly or significantly more in immersive technologies in 2020 compared to 2019. Just six percent expect the investment level to be lower than the previous year.
  • More companies are proactively addressing and updating privacy policies and disclosures regarding consumer data. More than half (54 percent) of the respondents said they were doing so this year, compared with 47 percent in 2019.

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The FREE, PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE download of the report is here:


Davenport University using virtual reality to deliver ‘you are there’ classes, events

Davenport is using virtual reality software VirBELA to run its virtual reality program.

"We want to try to make sure we are in front of the curve," said Brian Miller, Davenport's dean of the global campus. "What really makes a school is a sense of place. That's missing in most online-learning programs."

Personalized avatars in different settings

Through the software, Davenport can designate classroom space, auditorium space, conference rooms and other places. Each person can set up their avatar, personalizing clothing, hair, skin color and other items. It is not photo-realistic.

The school recently held  a career fair using the software, setting up business representatives on a virtual soccer field. Students visiting the fair could walk their avatar around the fair and see the different booths.

99d89b14-4223-4c11-9be2-e289ca50c270-ConferenceRoomThere also can be conference rooms, where students can gather around a table, with screens and boards in the background. The screens are saved even when users log out. The users' avatars sit at the table. Nobody else can get in. A professor can knock on the door to come in and check on students. The students' avatars will stand up and go open the virtual door to let the teacher in.

Rooms can be set up differently. For example, a large space could handle round tables with space for eight people at each table, or rows of chairs, or other configurations.

Yes, you can raise your hand

Once in, people using their avatar can raise hands, look puzzled or take other actions. If there is a conference going on, when one speaker introduces the next speaker, that person's avatar steps out of the audience and talks at the podium.

"It creates visual clues and a sense of being there," Miller said. "It's also good for helping with skills for students. For example, it's hard to replicate in online classes the feeling you get when standing up and looking at a bunch of people sitting there looking at you. This does that. It also offers visual feedback from the audience, so you can learn how to read an audience and adapt your message."

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The VirBELA site - 


Welcoming 3D Spatial Mapping Leader to Niantic: Accelerating Real-World AR Innovation

6dToday, we are announcing the acquisition of and welcoming members of the talented team to Niantic. Together, we’re building a dynamic, 3D map of the world so we can enable new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences. This means we're even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.

Founded in 2017, was spun out from Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab, building computer vision-based technologies and developer tools that solve fundamental AR problems, such as 3D reconstruction and AR persistence.

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Facebook Signs Exclusivity Deal with AR Display Maker Plessey

Plessey’s microLED displays are said to combine very high-density RGB pixel arrays with high-performance CMOS backplanes to produce what it calls “very high-brightness, low-power and high-frame-rate image sources” for AR and VR headsets.

Vuzix, a maker of smartglasses and AR headsets, entered into a similar agreement with Plessey last year, which at the time was said to simplify existing AR optical systems of red, green and blue light sources by replacing it with a single self-emitting display which has integrated micro-optical elements. At the time, Vuzix’s agreement was seeking to use Plessey’s displays to reduce size and weight of their headsets.

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For Shut-In Pilgrims, the World’s Holiest Sites Are a Click Away

[PhilNote: the site gives links to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic site 360 documentaries.]

For nearly two years, Eilat Lieber, director and chief curator of the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City, has been excited for this April, when Passover, Easter and Ramadan — touchstone holidays of three major religions — would collide for the first time in nearly two decades.

To prepare for the 400,000 or so tourists who had been projected to visit Jerusalem this April, the Tower of David Museum began collaborating with two virtual reality production houses — Blimey, based in Israel, and OccupiedVR, based in Canada — to create an immersive augmented reality experience for the crowds expected at its medieval stone citadel.

And then coronavirus shut everything down. Israel closed its borders to foreign visitors; all nonresidents are now banned from the Old City. So Ms. Lieber made the decision to put “The Holy City,” a virtual reality experience that lets viewers drop in on Jerusalem’s holiest sites and festivals, online for free starting April 9. Her move came as virtual reality experiences of holy sites across the globe are more readily available, allowing shut-in pilgrims of multiple religions a window into virtual worship in an unprecedented time.


Here’s how virtual reality can bring ancient cities back to life (Ugarit, 3,000 BC)

[PhilNote: it is amazing ANY of it survives. It is in coastal Syria.]

ugaritAlthough only 30 per cent of Ugarit has been excavated, the discovered areas give clues about the organisation of the city. The buildings include royal palaces, large houses, tombs, sanctuaries, public buildings and temples. Ugarit’s golden age was between the 14th and 12th century BC, and the excavated ruins show that interesting political, social and economic evolution took place in the city.

Virtual conservation

A shift toward using virtual technologies as preservation methods to document historic sites and provide educational opportunities has taken place in recent years. This prevents misguided architectural conservation, which can damage a site.

Preserving a sacred route

Excavations have revealed a key sacred route that linked the Royal Palace with the main Temple of Baal and passed through public areas of Ugarit. Researchers believe that the king followed this sacred path to practice cult sacrifices at the temple.

Virtual reconstruction is an effective tool to assess these proposals and judge their ability to protect the ruins, as well as revealing intangible aspects, such as the atmosphere of a street, which are lost to time. We have developed virtual tours which create an opportunity for screen displays to be installed on the site before the actual proposal is implemented.

This political situation also means that it is not possible to visit Ugarit at the moment – a position shared by hundreds of archaeological sites around the world. So the virtual reconstructions serve another purpose: they allow those interested a glimpse of this fascinating city and provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the site’s cultural importance with an international audience.

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Google 3D animals: Which ones are available and how to use them

google_ar_animals_3d_tiger_1-e1585426281527List: 3D animals available on Google Search

What other AR objects are available in Google Search?

What you need to view AR objects on Google

Google’s 3D animals are different on every device. Typically speaking, you might not see AR or 3D objects on a desktop computer or laptop. Rather, you’ll need a supported smartphone to view these objects.

The good news? Most modern smartphones are supported!

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